From a little more than one in 10 in 2000, the number of Americans 65 and older will increase to nearly one in five in 2030. The population 85 and over will more than double over just the next decade.
So, three questions:
Where will they live? Half of those 65 and older have incomes of less than $20,000, with meager savings. The shortage of affordable housing is already critical.
How will we afford their health care? Along with greater medical needs, aging brings reduced mobility and thus more obstacles in getting to the doctor. As a result, many entirely manageable conditions end up with a 911 call and an emergency room visit. The taxpayers and those paying the premiums for private insurance wind up footing the bill.
Finally, how can these older adults achieve a decent quality of life? Many will live alone, their health compromised by the debilitating effects of isolation.
All these questions are particularly relevant in the St. Louis area because we skew slightly older than the nation. In addressing the demographic tsunami, it would behoove our region to lead.